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Nano solar developer secures funding to commercialise technology

Sara Ver-Bruggen - 14 Feb 2011


A Norwegian company developing a new thin-film solar cell has begun a programme to develop a prototype by 2013, with the aim of commercialisation by 2015 at the earliest.

EnSol is preparing nanomaterial-based solar cells for building-integrated applicationsEnSol's solar cell is based on layers of thin-films made from metal-based nanomaterials. The state-funded Norwegian Research Council has awarded EnSol an undisclosed amount to develop its nanomaterial thin-film cells and processing techniques, which can be scaled up for commercial markets including building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) applications such as solar electricity generating glass.

A collaborative effort between EnSol and the University of Leicester, which has the equipment to produce the nanomaterials, proved the basics of the solar cell last year. Over the next three years the partners will test various combinations of materials, experiment with cell layer structures, and develop applications and process techniques. Test data, results and other knowledge gained will be used to optimise the metal nanomaterial thin-film solar cell.


Tools

As part of the project a prototype line in Bergen, west Norway, where EnSol is based, will be built and will include vacuum processing tools.

Other partners include the University of Manchester for photovoltaic analysis and measurement. Scandinavian turnkey supplier of solar rooftop and park installations Scatec will guide the industrial and commercial development of the technology.

Earlier this month New Energy Technologies, a US contender developing a solar cell for low-cost BIPV applications based on organic electronic thin-films, developed a first-generation 12 x 12-inch working prototype of its SolarWindow technology. Coatings for the photoactive and related components of a solar cell are sprayed onto glass.

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